tv U.S. Senate CSPAN April 11, 2013 9:00am-12:00pm EDT
and so i listen to my colleagues anand law enforcement becoming e need to do something about gun violence. i listen to the people of newtown who say, can't we do something about the guns? and i respect the rights of gun owners, the second amendment is the law of the land, and none of these proposals would take guns out of the hands of responsible and lawful gun owners. but there are some people who should not have them. there are some guns that should not be in use, and there are some weapons of war, high-capacity magazines that should not be sold in this country. in more than half of the mass killings, high-capacity magazines enabled the shooting that occurred so rapidly and so
easily, and newtown the changing of a magazine by the shooter enabled children to escape. in tucson, the killing of a nine year old girl, christina taylor, by the 13th bullet, would not have happened if that magazine had been limited to 10 rounds because the shooter was tackled as he tried to change magazines. the high-capacity magazine enabled adam lanza to fire 154 bullets in five minutes. so these kinds of commonsense measures may not prevent all of these tragedies. they may not enable us to stop all of the 3000 killings that have occurred since newtown. we can't look back and say for certainty that newtown wouldn't
have occurred if these measures had been in place, but the likely would would have been reduced, some or all of those children might be alive today. some of those heroic educators could be in their classrooms now. and the challenge here is to save lives, to do something, to stop the carnage and killing on our streets, in our neighborhoods, in communities like newtown. a quintessential new england town. if it could happen in newtown, it can happen anywhere in america. as we go forward in this debate, i hope that we will listen to those brave and resilient and resolved families that are here today. listen to them when they face up that we must keep faith.
listen to nicole hockley and what she said when the president of the united states visited connecticut just a couple of days ago. she said, but now there is no going back for me. there is no way. if you want to protect your children, if you want to avoid this loss, you will not turn away either. i ask my colleagues, let us face this reality. let us not turn away. let us resolve to go forward and keep faith with the children and the educators who, by their example, provide us with an enormous and historic opportunity to make america safer and better. the nation that we love, the nation that we all believe is
the greatest in history of the world, and will be greater still after we move forward to make it safer and better. thank you, mr. president, madam president, and i yield the floor. >> madam president? >> senator from utah. >> unanimous consent the quorum call be suspended. >> without objection. >> madam president, for several weeks now washington and the rest of the country have been debating several new gun control proposals. along with a number of my colleagues, including the minority leader, i declared my intention to resist an immediate vote on any new restrictions that would serve primarily to limit the freedom of law-abiding citizens rather than reduce violent crime in america. unfortunately, the current gun control proposals would do just that. more than two weeks ago we inform the majority leader that we will exercise our procedural right to require a 60 vote
threshold in order to bring this legislation to the floor. we've taken this step under our senate rules of procedure for three principal reasons. first, the senate serves an important function in our republic by encouraging deliberation, and make it more difficult for a temporary majority to impose its will unilaterally. unlike the house of representatives, the senate's rules and procedures allow for meaningful debate and help ensure that a fair majority of senators cannot impose controversial legislation on the american people with our robust debate, discussion, and broad-based and bipartisan consensus. contrary to statements made by the president and by some friends across the aisle, and even a few from within my own caucus, we have no intention of preventing debate or votes. quite the opposite. by abject into the motion to
proceed, we guarantee that the senate and the american people would have at least three additional days to assess and evaluate exactly how this particular bill might affect the rights of law-abiding citizens. and whether or not it might have any significant impacts on violent crime. already we've seen consensus against passing any new gun legislation, at least not without broad bipartisan support. during the recent budget debate i offered an amendment to establish a two-thirds vote requirement for the passage of any new gun legislation. six democratic senators voted with a nearly united republican caucus to support my amendment by a vote of 50-49. that vote demonstrated that a fair majority of senators, including at least six democrats, believe that new gun legislation should a broad, bipartisan support in the senate before it is past and before it
has the opportunity to become law. a 60 vote threshold will help ensure that new gun laws are not forced to the senate with a narrow support of just one party. second, this debate is about a lot more than just magazine clips and pistol grips. it's about the purpose of the second amendment and why our constitutionally protected right to self-defense is an essential part of self-government. at its core the second amendment helps ensure that individuals and local communities can serve as the first line of defense against threats to our persons and our property. any limitation on this fundamental right of self-defense makes us more dependent on our government for our own protection. government can't be everywhere at all times. so the practical effect of limiting our individual rights is to make us less safe. this is deeply troubling to many
americans. any legislation that would restrict our basic rights to self-defense deserves serious and open debate. further, as we have seen just today, washington sometimes prefers to negotiate backroom deals made in secret far from the eyes of the american people, rather than engaging and thorough, open, and transparent debate right here on the senate floor. a day before the majority leader has set about to proceed, the bills critical components are still not there. right before we have set to vote for the motion to proceed to the bill, we still don't know what these critical components look like. we have no legislative text to evaluate the so-called compromise language on background checks, and we have no sense of what amendments, if any amendment at all, might be
allowed to be offered. so requiring a 60 vote threshold helps us solve some of these problems and it helps us ensure that we have a meaningful debate rather than a series of backroom deals, with solely a better majority to back the. finally, many other provisions that we expect to see in the bill are both constitutionally problematic and would serve primarily to limit the freedoms of law-abiding american citizens. some of the proposals like, for example, universal background checks would allow the federal government to survey of law-abiding citizens who exercise their constitutional rights. one of the provisions we expect to see in the bill is based on what we saw in the judiciary committee on which i sit, would allow the attorney general of the united states to promulgate regulations that could lead to a national registry system for
guns. something my constituents in utah are very concerned about. and understandably so. you see, the federal government has no business monitoring where or how often you go to church, what books and newspapers you read, who you vote for, or health conditions, what you eat for breakfast, and the details of your private life. including your lawful exercise of rights protected by the second amendment and other provisions of the bill of rights. such limitations may, of course, at times make it harder for the government to do what it feels like it needs to do. but we have to remember the constitution was not written to maximize or protect the convenience of our government. the constitution was written to protect individual liberty. and thankfully so. we must not narrow the application of constitutional protection in haste. nor should we allow a fair
majority jeopardized the basic rights of the american people, rights protected in the first 10 amendment is to the constitution. the senate and the american people are engaged in an important debate today. i look forward to this debate, and i hope that others would join me and my colleagues in demanding that our discussions take place in full view of the american people. thank you, madam president. i note the absence of a quorum. >> the clerk will call the roll. >> yesterday senators joe manchin of west virginia and pat toomey of pennsylvania announced a bipartisan deal on extending background checks for firearms purchases. the agreement would expand the checks to cover all commercial sales including gun shows and internet sales. the senate will vote on whether to move forward with gun legislation later today. the news briefing has just under 20 minutes. >> good morning.
i'm going to be coming up some peoples don't you. i hope i don't -- let me just a good one to all of you and i'm very, very proud to be here with my good friend, pat toomey, for my sister state of pennsylvania, west virginia, we're side to side and come from states that have deep-rooted cultures, as you know, and we feel very strong in the. i also want to give special thanks to two people who are not here today who have been invaluable to the process and have worked from the beginning, trying to find common ground, and that is senator chuck schumer, my good friend, and my dear friend mark kirk. mark has been with me from the beginning, and has never left, and chuck and his staff and all of them have worked so hard, i think everybody. because pat will tell you, the staff did a yeoman's job. i also want to thank tom coburn. tom has been invaluable to the process, also coming from the
culture we come from and has had great input all the way through this process. i want to make it clear from the start that this is a start and not the end of our work. we still have a lot to do. we have an agreement, pat and i have an agreement with senator kirk and senator schumer. we have an agreement on than a minute to prevent criminals and the mentally ill and insane from getting firearms and harming people. that's extremely important for all of us. also, we agree that we need a commission on mass violence. this commission will be made up of people of expertise. people with expertise in guns, expertise and mental is, expertise in school safety and people who have expertise in video violence. we have a cultural bias a that e have a whole generation that basically has been desensitized. if you go around and talked of young people today, it is what it is, and we got to find how we can change and reverse that. we also need to protect legal
gun owners. legal gun owners like myself and that basically cherish the second amendment rights that we have. we have done that also. but today is just the start of a healthy debate that must end with the senate and house, hopefully passing these commonsense measures and the president signed into law. back over i come from we have common sense, we have nonsense, now we have done since. that's what we're talking about. the events in newtown triggered the events that changes all. it changed our country. our community, our towns, and it changed our hearts and minds. this amendment will not ease the pain of the families of lost their children on that horrible day, but nobody here, and i mean not one of us in this great town, capital of ours, with a good conscience could sit by and not try to prevent a day like that from happening again. i think that's what we're doing. americans on both sides of the
debate can and must find common ground. that's what pat and i've been working on and what we been able to do. today's is the first step in all of us agree is crucial to keep guns out of dangerous hands and keep our children safe. this is a bipartisan movement. it's a bipartisan amendment, and we all know that a bipartisan solution is a lasting solution. so nobody in good conscious could sit by and not try to prevent a day that is happened in newtown from ever happening again. i can't say enough about my friend, pat toomey. and i just appreciate you so much for working as hard and the staff willing to take on, after all of us come together today. i would like to introduce my dear friend of pat toomey from the great state -- >> thank you very much. i, too, want to commend senator manchin for the great work that he has put in. our staffs have worked very hard as well. and i appreciate.
it's been a pleasure working with you. will continue working together i hope on many things. i also want to mention the terrific work that senator kirk has done on mr. t. has really been an invaluable asset and its gushing a very, very important voice in this discussion to let me say, pennsylvania has a long bipartisan tradition of supporting gun rights. i've been proud to be a part of the commission and i continue to be. i'm a gun owner, and the rights that are enshrined in the second amendment are very, very important to me personally. as i know there are two so me people across pennsylvania. my record shows this. i've got to tell you candidly, i don't consider criminal background checks to be gun control. i think it's just common sense. if you pass a criminal background check, you get to buy a gun, no problem. it's the people who fail, a criminal or mental health background check that we don't want having guns. now, in my time in public life,
i've not taken a very high profile role on this issue. i spend most of my time and energy, focusing on policies that will help generate economic growth, and job creation and put us on a sustainable fiscal path. that has been my focus. it will continue to be my focus. so let me explain to you why i inside standing here today with senator manchin. i'm here today because over the last few months several things became apparent to me. first is the gun legislation appeared destined to reach the senate floor the not something that i thought that something i think is inevitable. second thing is it became apparent that there are a number of gun control proposals that i think actually would infringe second amendment rights. and i will tell you categorically that nothing in our amendment prevents the ownership of guns i any lawful person, and i wouldn't support it if it did. but what also became apparent to me in the course of this debate,
there was a danger that we might end up accomplishing nothing. and not making progress where we could. so that's when i started talking with senator manchin and senator kirk, and others, to see if it might be able to find a place where there's some common ground. and i think we found it. and the common ground rest on a simple proposition, and that is that criminals and a dangerously mentally ill shouldn't have guns. i don't know anyone who disagrees with that premise. from either political party or whatever folks views might be on broader gun rights issues. so if we start with the notion that dangerous criminals and dangerously mentally ill people should have guns, the question is, how can we publish that? background checks are not a cure-all by any means, but they can be helpful. in the 10 year period from 1999-2009, 1.8 million gun sales were blocked by the current background check system because
people were not qualified to own a gun. i support background checks in the past. i support him no. they already exist of course for the purchase of guns from licensed dealers. in pennsylvania in fact they already exist for all handgun purchases. if it passes what are measure will do, it will expand background checks for purchases of firearms at gun shows and over the internet. it would not require record-keeping by any private citizen. the fact is a national law that we have had come and pennsylvania's experience, have do nothing to restrict the lawful ownership of guns are law abiding citizen. and neither will our amendment. the warnings we here sometimes about background checks leaving to an erosion of our second amendment rights, that simply hasn't happened. i want to make sure it doesn't. i also should point out as senator manchin did that this admin is a genuine compromise. in addition to expand background
checks, it includes a number of measures that help to secure second amendment rights of gun owners, some items that gun owners have long sought. the bottom line for me is this, if expanding background checks to include gun sales and internet checks can reduce the likelihood criminals and mentally ill people from getting guns come and we can do it in a fashion that does not infringe on the second a minute rights of law-abiding citizens. then we should do it, and in this and i think we did. thanks very much. >> we will take some questions and you can direct them however you want to direct them. >> can you tell us how you've communicated to the nra -- will they have an opinion? >> i can't speak for the nra but yes, i've been in constant dialogue and i'm sure that pat, has, too. we have taken all sides into consideration. would you have senator schumer
come to the table wanted to see something, to move in the right direction, and also the direction it comes from, but it will to work with me from the beginning, have mark kirk sit down with m me from beginning dn with me for making imports are, how the nra sitting there for all people on all sides of the gun issue knowing, what we're trying to is basically saying that if you go to a gun store today, you are subjected to a background check. basically a lot of the states haven't done the work they should have done. we're going to make sure they do. there's penalties. if you go to a gun show you will be treated the same as if you went to a gun store. subjected to background check. and if you go online you will be subject to the same as your if you buy a gun online in another state. so those are all the things we're doing but yes, we got everybody to the table. we have spoken to the nra and i cannot tell you what the position is but i can tell you
we have done the things that pat said we just did. we strengthened basically the rights of the law-abiding gun owners to be able to exercise our second amendment rights, but we've also i think in a tremendous favor to the citizens of our great country on background checks, expanded into keep people's guns from people should have been. people have been criminally adjudicated, and mentally adjudicated. >> senator, are you worried that -- [inaudible] >> what matters to me is human rights. i think this is the right thing, and i think most pennsylvanians will agree that making it more difficult for criminals, mentally ill people to obtain guns is the right thing to do, securing the rights of law-abiding citizens is also the right thing to do. so that's what's most important to me.
>> [inaudible] >> are you going to get more republicans -- [inaudible] >> i've had conversations with several of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, but i can't speak for them yet but i think it's decent enough people are going to vote on this. >> hold on. >> [inaudible] >> we have been promised and then from that argument will be the first amendment that goes on. >> at least the two of you will vote for this bill and encourage others to do this because i intend to support it was a. i cannot support without the minute that pat and i have worked on. >> i don't predict how and going to vote on a measure that isn't defined yet. and since this might very well, another will be come an open and in the process, i don't know
which and will succeed or fail so i will make my final judgment when i see the final product. >> can you talk about what the reaction has been from your fellow republicans? >> it's arranged. there's some people that are very interested in learning more and they are interested and they are openly considering whether they might embrace this approach. others are not very interested. it kind of runs the gamut. >> [inaudible] >> so in other words, to people who don't know each other, can they -- >> let me make it clear. what we have done, if you go to a gun show, you have to do all background checks and have to be recorded with a federal firearms license due to the same we did if you go to a gun store. that would be if i steal but if you go online, missing. other than that, no. personal transfers are not
touched whatsoever all personal transfers are not touched whatsoever. we have done these two, and we have done then and done them right. >> [inaudible] >> the way i would characterize securing gun rights, i think we just did a list, i'll give you a couple of examples. it occasionally happens that a law-abiding citizen who has every legal right to own a weapon is transporting it from one state to another, maybe going hunting, maybe his bring it to a son or daughter. is transporting it in the proper fashion but you have to transit the state that might require a license, for instance. he doesn't have a license in the state, and sometimes that person from abs stop for gas or stay overnight in a hotel. that person shouldn't be subject to criminal prosecution when he is doing something that's really completely lawful. there are others. current law forbids active duty
military personnel from buying a gun in their own state. i think that's a terrible policy, franco. they're only permitted to buy guns in which states they are stationestation. what we did is we would change that. we would allow an active duty military folks to buy guns in their home state. that's just two examples. there are others. >> both senators come in the past you have worked for national concealed carry reciprocity. he touched upon a little bit, senator toomey, is this the first step towards national reciprocity? >> yes. i supported. i hope we get there. it gives us better control, if you'll. it really gives us much better control. if you can't look at pat and i am not assuming of you are law-abiding gun owners who enjoy hunting and shooting like we did come you can't assume that people because we enjoy that, the second amendment rights we, that there's something wrong.
but we make sure we do it in a safe man and we treated fairly. with that this goal is to make sure that the people that shouldn't have them are not going to access to the guns through a gun show, internet sales, or at a gun store. >> [inaudible] 700 people picked up at laguardia, jfk or airport. this bill creates a mechanism that they wouldn't be caught in a trap? >> is that a permit to carry and they go through an extensive background to get a permit to carry, conceal together, then it will be treated as law-abiding citizens as not as combustion because they happen to be in a state that doesn't accept that. i'm sorry, what? >> what you think of process -- prospects are? what are the prospects in the house of? >> my answer is i don't know. i'm looking forward to the debate. i'm hopeful, but i think this is
a fluid situation and it's hard to predict. >> i have spoken this morning with all of my friends in the gun state of west virginia, the gun culture of west virginia, people who appreciate and enjoy the rights that they have. and i explained by detail what the bill does. and i think i have support from who would be the most critical connecticut of anybody in the country. -- this is gun since. we are not infringing on the rights of an individual citizen. basically if you're going to go to a gun show you should be subjected the same as if you want to the gun store. if you go online you should be the same as if you bought the guns across state lines the same as if you're in state. this makes sense. and also having a commission on that. talk to your children who are watching this video games today. talk to the people at newtown. basically, and i go -- if we
have had bulletproof glass with her prevented. these are things we haven't taken into consideration before. why aren't we treating them? >> have you reached out to many house republicans? [inaudible] about supporting the cement? >> i had several conversations with some of our house colleagues, and i know there are a substantial number of house republicans that are supportive of this approach. first they want to look at the specific legislation but there are definite republicans in the house who support this. thank you all very much. >> thank you so much. we will be talking to you all. >> the u.s. senate is about to
gavel and to start the day. general speeches to get underway with them and then a vote to move the firearms bill forward. that is scheduled for 11 a.m. eastern today. and now to live coverage of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. o holy god, friend unseen, we lean on your everlasting arm. help our senators throughout life's challenging seasons.
when they are discouraged, fill them with your faith. when they are oppressed, empower them to persevere with your might, for you are our strength, our rock, our all. remind them that any effort you require of them, will ultimately have a positive effect. give them the spirit of wisdom so that they will know you better. lord, guide them so that they will find a way to unite in producing creative legislation. we pray in your gracious name. amen.
the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c., april 11, 2013. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable bryan is the. schatz, a senator from the state of hawaii, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: patrick j. leahy, president pro tempore. mr. reid: following leader remarks, the senate will resume consideration of the gun legislation. the time between 9:30 and 1:00 -
and 11:00 will be divided equally. if cloture isn't invoked, i would hope we could reach agreement to begin debate on the bill today. we have people waiting in the wings to offer amendments. the first amendment was negotiated for quite sometime by senator manchin and senator toomey and senator kirk. i've had calls from my republican colleagues indicating they have some amendments they want to offer. so let's get on the bill. let's not waste 30 hours. i hope that that in fact can happen so we can start legislating today. mr. president, life can change in a moment. in carson city, nevada, a little over a year ago -- actually, time goes quickly; it was in september of 2011, september 6,
shortly before 9:00 in the morning, a deeply disturbed man with an automatic weapon stepped out of his car outside of carson city, nevada, restaurant. in the few brief seconds that followed, he fired nearly 80 rounds from an automatic weapon, sprang bullets all over a parking lot and into an ihop restaurant. he killed four people instantly, wounded several others and took his own life after that. that took 85 seconds. and in those 85 seconds, five lives ended, countless more were altered forever. three nevada army national guardsmen were on their way to work that morning. miranda macilanda, sergeant first class christian rejay, and
35-year-old major heath kelley, florence gunderson was eating breakfast with her husband and was also killed and murdered. in that 85 seconds, carson city joined the likes of blackburg, virginia, coal mine, colorado, and scores of other cities in america marked by mass shootings in recent decades. like those other cities and towns, carson city was left asking, why? maybe, mr. president, we will never know. the gunman had been diagnosed with schizophrenia earlier, had recently confided to a priest that the voices he heard in his head continued to tell him to do bad things. what is clear is how the shooter
obtained two assault rifles, two handguns, and almost 600 round of ammunition he took to that ihop that day. mr. president, i don't know -- no one really knows -- what happened. it's not clear what happened. where did he get those weapons? remember, two assault rifles, two handguns, and about 600 rounds of ammunition that he took with him to the parking lot to start shooting people. even though all that is not clear, how he obtained those assault weapons, this much is clear: we have a responsibility to do everything in our power to keep guns out of the hands of those who suffer from mental illness. now, mr. president, i think it's clear that we mean severe mental illness. irthink with our families we've all had individuals who have periods of time when they're depressed. illnesses that make themselves a
danger to themselves and others, we must keep weapons out of their hands. we have a responsibility to keep the hands out of criminals, convicted felons. the measure before the senate today would institute initial background checks and prevent those people from buying firearms, severely depressed -- i'm sorry, strike that. with severe mental illness. with aens to make sure we -- i want to make sure we stress that, and criminals. this legislation would also crack down on anyone who buys a gun to fun it will to criminals and it would give schools the resources to keep children safe. this bill won't stop every mad man. we all know that. nor is this bill the only suggestion to protest gun values -- to prevent gun violence. in the coming days we'll debate other provisions to make america safer. an assault gun weapons ban will
be debated and voted on, a ban on high-capacity clips like those used to kill the four people at carson city ihop, how the man in aurora, colorado, was able to get a magazine with 100 bullets in it. that's the only reason why people weren't massacred even more. the gun jammed. there are powerful feelings about each of the proposals i've helpingmentioned, both in suppod opposition. we ought to be able to agree to exchange thoughtful debate about these measures. let's engage in it. we ought to be able to agree on how the cultural of violence has grown in this country. i hope we have enough to have cloture invoked. i feel fairly confident of that.
as i i've caughted, for the last many weeks we're going to have an open amendment process, as possible in this bill. as always, the process will depend on the good will of all senators. somebody could come and do all kinds of things to stop us from doing anything on the bill. i hope that's not the case. once we're on the underlying bill, the first amendment as i've caughted will be on a substitute compromised background check proposal offered by senators manchin, toomey, kirk, and schumer. i thank the senators for working on this issue. i'm hopeful we'll be able to debate and vote on a umi -- on a number of amendments by senators. i also respect those who want to weaken the laws that now exist. they have a right to try to do that. but, mr. president, three soldiers -- miranda, christian,
and heath -- and florence, who was not a soldier but was one of those killed, and they deserve some attention. there are seven people that were hurt by the spring of these bullets. and those that were killed. that was a terrible day in carson city, and they, each one of them, deserve a thoughtful debate and they deserve votes. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: today the senate will vote on whether to invoke cloture on proceeding to s. 649. i will vote against invoking cloture, and i'd like to explain why.
i believe the government should focus on keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals and those with mental issues that could cause them to be a threat to our society. the government should not punish or harass law-abiding citizens in the exercise of their second amendment rights. unfortunately, s. 649 has the focus entirely backwards. for example, the background check portion of s. 649 is senator schumer's bill that the judiciary committee reported out on a party-line basis. the aim of that bill from its plain terms could not be more clear. section 121, the purpose section, provides that the aim of the bill is to require americans to undergo background checks for -- quote -- "all sales and transfers of firearms." end quote. if they don't, it is a federal
crime. again, the requirement applies to all sales and even transfers of all firearms. and with very few exceptions, that is exactly what s. 649z the next session of the plain makes plain why that overly broad language is so proble problemat. that section, section 122, provides that it is unlawful for any private party to -- quote -- "transfer a firearm to any other person" -- end quote. without first turning over that firearm to a commercial firearms dealer and having that dealer perform a background check. there are few limited exceptions, such as for gifts between immediate family members and inheriting a firearm, but that's it. in fact, the bill makes clear that transfer means not just sale but a -- quote -- "gift,
loan, or any other disposition of that firearm." so under the schumer legislation, the following offenses would now be federal crimes, absent of surrendering of firearms and conducting a background check. federal offenses: an uncle giving his nephew a hunting rifle for christmas; a niece giving her aunt a handgun for protection; a cousin loaning another cousin his hunting rifle if it occurs just one day before hunting season; or one neighbor loaning another a firearm so his wife can protect herself while her husband is away. now, the people i'm describing are not criminals. they're neighbors, friends, and family. and the scenarios i'm describing are not fanciful. they happen countless times in
our country. but the schumer bill would outlaw these transfers and make people like these criminals. but there are other problems with the legislation from the senator from new york. under his legislation, it's a crime for someone who lawfully possesses a firearm not to report a lost or stolen firearm to both the appropriate local authorities, whoever they are, and the attorney general within 24 hours. now, people should report firearms that are lost or stolen, but are we really going to make their failure to do so within 24 hours a federal crime that is punishable by up to five years in prison? what if the person thinks the firearm is misplaced, not lost or stolen, but the person is actually wrong about that? and what if the person comes to the realization after two days instead of one?
and if they report the lost or stolen firearm to their sheriff, assuming he is one of the undefined appropriate local authorities, why is it a crime if they don't report it to the attorney general in and why would the provision target only those who lawfully possess firearms rather than criminals who don't lawfully possess them? i could go on and on and list other problems with s. 649 but i think i've made my point. this sill bill is a clear overreach that will predominantly punish and harass our neighbors, our friends and our families. so to protect the rights of law-abiding citizens of the commonwealth of kentucky and other states, i will oppose invoking cloture on s. 649. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to cssments 649 which the clerk will report. the clerk: motion to proceed to
calendar number 32, s. 649 to ensure all vippedz who should be prohibited from buying a firearm are listed in the national instant background check system and for other purposes. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the time until 11:00 a.m. will be equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: mr. president, thank you. we are on the verge of a historic vote that will determine whether we make america safer and assure that we
do everything possible as senators and citizens to assure there are no more newtowns. on the evening of december 14 when we left the firehouse at sandy hook, there was a vigil at a church in newtown, st. rose of lima presided over by father bob, who is monsignor robert weiss, a very moving and powerful experience. the church was filled, people stood at the windows to hear what was going on. the governor spoke and so did i, and i said that evening the world is watching newtown. and, in fact, the world was watching newtown, as we knew
from the horror of that afternoon when many of us arrived at the church, and first at the firehouse to see families emerging and learning for the first time that their children, their babies, would not be coming home that evening. it was an experience that will stay with me forever. the sights and sounds of that afternoon filled with grief and pain will never leave me. the world was watching newtown that day and that evening, and has watched newtown and connecticut in the days and months since, and i have been privileged to spend many hours and days, weeks and these past months with the families. the world has watched the families, and it has seen in them and in newtown a great
community, a quintessential new england town, the strength and courage that was as unimaginable as the horror of that day. strength and courage that represents what is good about america. and what is strong and courageous about our nation. the world has watched newtown and the families of newtown, and it has watched connecticut. and now the world is watching the united states senate. it is watching the senate to see whether democracy works. sounds simple, but it's true. will democracy work to reflect the majority of the united states of america, the majority of our people who say we need to do something about the guns? that is what the families said to me that day and in days
since, and what people in connecticut and across the country have said to their senators, we must do something about gun violence. i remember talking talking to one of the families that evening and saying, you know, when you're ready, we ought to talk about what we can do to stop gun violence in measures in the united states congress, and she said to me, i'm ready now. the united states senate must be ready now to act. it must keep faith with those families and victims as the world watches, with benjamin andrew wheeler, age 6. his father, david, his is here today and he is here in spirit as we decide in the united states senate today whether we will move forward toward
progress. ana grace marquez greene, also age 6, her mother melba is here today and she is with us in spirit. dylan hockley, age 6, whose mother nicole is here, also here in spirit. and jesse lewis, age 6. his father, neil hesland is here. mary sherlach, one of the six educators killed at sandy hook elementary, whose husband bill is here. jesse, mary are here with us, too. and we know that compromise and action are possible because two of our colleagues have forged a
bipartisan compromise that will enable us to come closer. it is imperfect, it is less than what i would have preferred in achieving universal background checks, it is a starting point. it is a step in the right direction. and it will help us achieve a larger bipartisan compromise because background checks are only one part of a commemorative strategy that must -- competitive strategy that must include a ban on illegal trafficking, strengthening school safety, as well as mental health initiatives and a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and i'll be privileged to spearhead the assault on high-capacity
magazines along with colleagues such as dianne feinstein and my colleague, chris murphy. today let us decide as the world watches, there will be no more newtowns. that is what the families want. that is what america wants. let us resolve that we will make democracy work as we go beyond this first step and decide to proceed on a bill that also is imperfect but provides a starting point, provides a way forward so that we can make our communities safer. the families of newtown have performed an extraordinary service to our nation. not only has the world watched and been inspired by their strength and courage, but they
have turned the tide. they have visited with our colleagues, and they have impacted this process more profoundly and more directly than any other single group. they have shown that we can break the strangle hold of special interests and the n.r.a. that speaking truth to power still works. and to them, we owe a special thanks. to them as a nation, we owe a debt of gratitude for the lives that will be saved, for the futures that will be given. even if their children and their loved ones will not enjoy that future, thefn -- they have
given futures to countless americans who will be saved from the scourge of gun violence. so to them i say thank you. they are in this building, and their children, their loved ones, are with us today in spirit as we take this historic step. thank you, mr. president, and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you, mr. president. i'm honored to be on the floor this morning to begin today's debate on this historic gun violence measure with my colleague, senator blumenthal.
and i join with him in my awe of the newtown families who are here this week. people have watched them on the news as they have gone from office to office and told the story of their loved ones. nobody can paint a picture as to why we need to act next week better than the families of those people who lost their lives in newtown. and there are so many stories that they can tell better than anyone else. they can tell the story of their lost first graders, but they can also tell the story of the five little boys and girls who escaped that morning, who escaped when the shooter went to reload and there was a brief period of time where some kids could run out of one of those first grade classrooms.
and better than anyone else these families can posit as to whether their little boys and girls would still be alive today if the shooter walked in with ten-round clips rather than 30-round clips, if he had to exchange magazines 15 times rather than five or six times. nobody can tell that story better than these families. what i've tried to do over the course of the last couple days is to help these families tell the story of their loved ones. but to also paint a broader picture, to talk about the 30 lives every day that are ended by gun violence. i think we need to talk about the victims and allow for the voices of these victims to be part of the debate here. because with while the tragedy in newtown has gotten the headlines and the highlights and is certainly the reason why we're standing here today, more
people than were killed in newtown die every day in this country from gun violence on the streets of washington and hartford and bridgeport and baltimore, all across the country. so these victims need to be our imperative, whether they be the 6- and 7-year-old kids and the teachers in newtown or whether they be the 25-year-olds and 17-year-olds that are dying every single day across our country. it's just got to end. the answer can't be as it has for 20 years that we're going to do nothing here. and so i want to take a few minutes to continue telling these stories this morning. and i want to begin with dylan hockley. dylan's mother has probably been one of the most articulate spokesman for -- spokesmen for this cause. his parents, nicole and ian have just been amazing in their
ability to grieve and come down to washington and argue their cause. dylan 4r06d video games, loved tramp trampolines, loved watching movies. he was autistic but was doing so much better, was proud of the fact he had learned how to read and taking out gooksbooks every day from the library to bring home. his parents chose sandy hook elementary school because of its autism program and i spoke about his paraprofessional, his special education aide who was so wonderful to assist him in doing better every single day. he was -- because of his autism, he was a child who loved routine and repetition and there were a few movies he would just watch over and over and over again, up, wall-e, the gruffalo and find portions. move he loved so much he'd rewind those portions ever and
over and over again and every single time he watched missouri movies he's laugh over and over and over again. his parents have created an organization called dylan's wings of change. it's a memorial fund to benefit autism and it's just one of a multitude of efforts that have flowed forth from this tragedy. dylan's life was ended, but this fund is going to help make sure that other kids like him have the chance to lead great, normal lives, even though they deal with complex problems like autism. mr. durbin: will the senator yield for a question? mr. murphy: be happy to. mr. durbin: i want to commend the senato senator from connect, mr. murphy for leading the floor debate and discussion on the pending legislation, which we'll vote on soon, relative to guns
and gun safety. it is appropriate that they are here because being the senators representing newtown, connecticut, they have a personal attachment to the families that have weathered this tragedy. this morning i met with those families in my office. tears were shed, as you might expect. these families have lost little children like dylan and so many others, and it is a loss which they will feel for a lifetime. but in their grief, they have come forward and shown extraordinary courage to walk through the corridors of power in washington to bring a simple message that they don't want this to happen to any other parent. and i want to thank senator murphy and senator blumenthal for reminding us that we have the power -- we've been given the power by the people we represent -- to make this a safer nation for families, for children, for schools, for
communities across the board. and soon we'll have a vote, and we're hoping -- i think that is a positive hope -- that enough on the other side of the aisle will step forward to defy the filibuster that has been threatened and bring this matter to the floor for a vote. and i know that senator murphy and senator blumenthal have come to the floor for the last day and a half and more to dramatize that issue. what i found interesting -- and i'd like to ask the senator to comment on -- is the promise of this community. they gave me list of things and said, this goes beyond guns and gun safety. and i would ask the senator, if he could, to address this promise that came out of newtown, connecticut, after the terrible tragedy on december 14. mr. murphy: with i thank the senator and thank you for your career of fighting on half of the legislation that will address gun violence and the
summation of all that work hopefully will be with us this week and next week. thank you for your question about the sandy hook promise. the sandy hook promise, which has been signed by tens of thousands of people raoul across the country, came out of this tragedy because there was a recognition that this was not a sprint, that this was a marathon, that the promise that we needed to make to each other in the wake of this horrific tragedy was not just that we were going to do everything within our power, our individual power to try to reduce the incidence of gun violence -- and us a point out, senator durbin, we have more power, the 100 of us, than almost anyone else and shame on fuss we don't use it. but the problem with the sandy hook promise is that there are so many other things you can do. you can make things in your community to build bigger and better systems of health, you can true i to forge at most fierce in schools that are -- at most spheres in schools that are
more positive and inviting. that you can be more thoughtful in your everyday interactions knowing that could be a tragedy around the corner that takes your neighbor away from you. make sure you say everything you want to sty that person. so this promise to do everything in our power to make sure this never happens again but to bring a new level of positivity to our world in the wake of this awful violence is one of the most important things that comes from it. we're so grateful that these families are here challenging us to pass specific legislation but also, senator, to make our lives change in the wake of this. mr. durbin: i'd like to ask if you'd yield further for a question, through the chair. one of the issues you just raised is one that i'd like to have you expound on. that is the issue of mental illness, mental health. this is something that in my liflifetime we have seen dramatc progress made, not just in the
treatment of mental illness but in our attitude toward mental illness. this was a time in the history of this country and this world when mental illness was sued not as an illness but a curse, and people afflicted by it were often shunned and institutiona institutionalized and treated very badly because it was considered to be something incurable and they had somehow been cursed and that was their plight on earth. thank good n.a.s. has changed and we now -- thank goodness that has changed and we now have a more positive attitude toward dealing with mental illness. more than half the people in america suffer from some form of depression, i've read. it is very common in most families and it is treatable. most men tail unless are treatable and most victims of mental health illness are no pee who are peaceful, god-loving
people who need understanding and help. more often they are the victims of violence rather than the perpetrators of violence. one person in your community of newtown, who stepped up and clearly was unstable and used that firearm -- those firearms on december 14 to dial innocent people had a caused us to step back and take a look at the issue of menin mental illness at relates to guns and firearms. what we're trying to do in this legislation is to say if your mental illness has reached such an extreme, if you are so unstable or threatening that you need to be watched in terms of purchases of firearms, let's make sure the records are there. but i hope -- and i know you dprea with this -- i hope that we will not allow it discussion to take us away from the beginning part, that treating minuttreatingmental illness is t thing to do, not shunning them, not pushing them aside from the
rest of mainstream, bundin, but understanding that treating them gives them that chance in life. it is that small minority that suffer from these afflictions that need to be monitored from the purchase of firearms. mr. murphy: as the senator knows, there's absolutely nothing inherent in mental illness that et crews a connection -- that creates a connection to violence. people with mental illness are much more likely to be the victims of violence than to perpetrate a crime. the great irony coming out of this debate could be that if we make the awful mistake of equa equating violence with mental illness, then we will make it harder for people to go utah 0 and seek treatment -- to go out and seek treatment. adam lanza was a deeply
disturbed individual. his mother made awful misstarks but she was certainly trying to figure out a way to get him help. the fact is that there are far too many families out there who don't have places to turn for treatment, and that's the right thing to do independent of this debate. we should absolutely be talking about the comprehensive commitment to ending gun violence, but the reality is that today there are just way too many families who hit brick walls when trying to find mental health treatment for their children. and if we were to go through this debate and somehow stereotype people with mental illness as prone to violence, then it will create more barriers. there is a proposal out there from one of the gun lobby groups to create a registry of everyone with mental isness across this country. it is a ludicrous idea,
especially when this group opposes the registration of everyone with guns across this country. this is a very serious incident in newtown but it shouldn't cause us to take steps backwards in terms of giving families help for their loved ones. mr. durbin: is it included in the bill that comes before us -- included in the bill that comes before us is not only an opportunity to change some of the circumstances that might is ar-- that might have saved lives in newtown, but also addresses some underlying issues of gun violence that results in the killing on a day-to-day basis of innocent people. a make which i've joined senator lay hey hey, kirk, and collins relates to straw purchases. these are manufactures by an individual to does not are a problem in their background that would disqualify them from
buying a gun. then they turn it over to a person who does have a problem with buying a gun. in chicago where we are making progress toward reducing murder, 9% of the gun confiscated in the past years came from the state of mississippi. the state of mississippi is not contiguous to illinois. it is a long way away. but clearly someone had started an industry of moving, buying guns easily in mississippi and moving them all the way up to chicago and selling them-to-the gang bangers and the thugs and the crime -- criminal elements in the estimate another 20% of the guns came from one gun shop outside the city of chicago, in the suburbs. we know exactly where it is. it is in riverdale, illinois. that has been the venue of choice for girlfriends to go buy a gun for their bo boyfriend, wo will use it to kill somebody.
the provision in the bill a that we're going to try to bring to the floor, the base bill, says this will now be a stiff, federal crime, a hard-time federal crime, which you knew or should have known was going to be used in the commission of a crime. though it doesn't directly affect the circumstances of the tragedy at newtown, it does hold out promise to he radio duce some of the other threats. yesterday he showed us a chart that showed how many have died from gun violence since newtown. it was a big chart of people who had died. so i thank you for what you a done in terms of what has affected newtown but i also thank you for disputin supportis underlying legislation. i hope that we keep in mind that gun safety and reducing gun violence means starts with the tragedies that have stricken us but also go beyond that and find a way to make the streets safer
for h implete idea pendelton, we out for the inauguration and then 10* 10 days later was gunned down in a park in her city. i thank the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you very much. i thank the majority whip and just add to his last comment, my constituents are amazed that we don'don't have a federal law bag drug trafficking today. they are amazed if you go into a store and buy guns legally and sell them to people who are prohibited, that you haven't committed a federal crime. there is an asum on this that the federal government would disallow that. we haven't. but hopefully at the end of this debate, we will. i thank senator durbin for all of his work on that issue. mr. president, let me tell a few more stories here. i want to get to senator durbin's point and tell some stories about the vick tige vicu
are bon -- of urban gun violencs well. dawn hochsprung was the principal at sandy hook elementary school. she was perhaps the first to die day because when the bullets started flying, when she heard the gunman enter through the front door, she ran straight to him. some of the investigators had posited given the way the crime scene shook out, that she may have even lunged for the gunman to try to stop him. and she was unsuccessful. she was killed, perhaps the first that day. the irony surrounding this day is multifold, but part of it involves the pact that one of of her process proudest accomplishments as principal of
that school was the establishment and integration of a brand-new security system, one that made sure that every visitor who entered that school after 9:30 had to buzz in, had to talk to the security people, the front desk people, before they entered the school. that doesn't work too well the person trying to gain entry doesn't need to press the buzzer, instead can take anar-15 and just knock ou out all the windows sms she was a passionate educator. she dove into her work at sandy hook. she was one of those folks who didn't sit in her office. she was out among the hallways at all times trying to make that mace a much more positive -- that place a much more positive environment. she grew up in connecticut. she lived in woodbury, connecticut, with her husband and her two daughters and three
step daughters. she grew up loving the outdoors. her friends recalled that dawn lafferty at the time was a tomboy who loved sports in high school. she wasn't just a top, top level athlete, but that didn't stop her. one the most amazing stories that i've heard about dawn is when she was in school at gnawing tuck high school, she wanted to run with the boy's track team. she wang allowed to do that. she protested to coach and to the administration and they still said she couldn't run sprints with the boys' track-track team. so she took her case to the school board. this is a high school student. she took the case to 0 the school board and won her case and went back to her high school and she then recruited others ooh girls to run sprints along with her. this was a born leader. and, you know, i guess maybe we
take some solace in the fact so many of these other kids here, whether it be dylan or chase or benjamin or jesse or ana, they were leaders, too. they were going to do amazing things with their lives. at least we got to know with dawn what her true potential was and we saw that potential in the wonderful school that she had built. i just talked about dylan. dylan's parents came from england, came all the way to sandy hook, connecticut for this school. because of the programs that dawn had built there. and if they ever had any doubt as to whether they had chosen the right leader, well, they were confident of that when she ran to the gunman to try to stop the carnage from getting any worse. let me tell you about one more little girl, age 6, madeline hsu. madeleine was again one of the
youngest victims that day. she was a shy and relatively quiet 6-year-old, but there were certain things that would make her light up. a lot of these kids loved animals, and madeleine loved dogs. she lit up around dogs. it was her passion. she was an avid reader and she loved running and she loved dancing. and she more than anything else loved to wear bright, flowery dresses, matched her personality. she shared a bed with two of her sisters. they their own rooms but they loved each other so much that they chose to sleep together at night. and they're going to miss her dearly. but, mr. president, as senator durbin pointed out, 20 kids and six adults were killed killed in newtown that day, two others, adam anden nancy lanza, that's less than the average number of
people killed by gun violence across this country every day. and we deserve to talk about them as well. and so before i leave the floor today i want to just tell you about a couple of the most recent victims of gun violence because you can't really even read this poster that senator durbin referred to because each one of these little dots is an individual figure representing people who have been killed in this country since december 14. the 28 people in newtown aren't even on this chart. and we're talking about 3,300 people who have died as a result of gun violence. and as you'll hear, some of these people died because they were maybe doing something wrong, but or in the midst of activity they shouldn't been part of, but chuck walker was 15 years old, and he was just walking on his way to visit his girlfriend to deliver some new shoes that he had bought for her. he was grus just bringing a gift
to his girlfriend. and his family said this is a kid that never, ever got in trouble. he was just going to visit his girlfriend, 15 years old and he was gunned down on the streets of hillcrest heights, maryland in an apparent robbery. just going to visit his girlfriend. or mackerel ross, who was 18 years old, and on september 11 of last year he was walking to school. he was walking to school. he was a member of the track team, he was a member of the rotc, he was thinking about a career in the military. he was found in a school uniform still holding his backpack, just a random act of violence on the way to school. and then moses walker, a little bit older, 40 years old, a police officer. he had just finished his shift in august of 2012, he waters four blocks from his police station, and he was gunned down
one year away from retirement. he was real active in his community. not only a great police officer but served as deacon of his church. he was remembered as courteous, polite and humble. a police officer gunned down four blocks from the police station. that's what's happening, mr. president. it's the tragedy that brings us to the floor today but as we have this debate we should remember that every day 30 people across this country are dying from guns, and we have the power to do something about it. i'm as pleased as senator blumenthal is about the compromise brought to this floor by senators manchin and toomey. it is not perfect but it is important because it's going to make our streets safer and make sure that less criminals across this country have access to guns. it's a platform for more next week, but it's a really important start. i'll be back to the floor later today to talk more about these victims. at this time i'd yield the floor. a senator: mr. president?
the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. leahy: would the senator yield for a unanimous consent request? mr. president, i ask consent that upon the conclusion of the distinguished senator from utah's comments that i be recognized for my own. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: i thank the senator. mr. lee: thank you, mr. president. i appreciate the cooperation and friendship by the senior senator from vermont. yesterday on the floor i discussed an initiative i launched this week called protect 2-a to give the voice of second amendment supporters around the united states who are very concerned about congress enacting any new gun control measures. i'm pleased to announce we now have over 3,000 responses from citizens, all across this country, who are sharing their stories, their experiences and their opinions about why they feel we should do everything in our power to protect their second amendment rights.
i had only a brief time to share some of those stories yesterday so i'd like to use a few minutes today to share just a few more. kathy from the state of virginia writes my husband and i are senior citizens. he's a veteran of the u.s. army. over the past several years, we've seen our constitutional rights trampled and twisted until we no longer trust that our government has our well-being at as its primary concern. last year for the first time in our lives we bought a gun, not only to ensure our safety against criminals but to protect and defend our god-given rights as citizens. the most basic right of all mankind, the right to life itself, no longer exists in this country. protecting our rights, the few the government has left us, is of the utmost importance to us and we'll do everything necessary to homed beyond those rights regardless of the source of the threats against them. god bless america. emily from pennsylvania writes,
"i'm 19 years old and i want to protect myself as soon as i'm legal to. as a young female living in allentown, pennsylvania, i don't like walking in the city because i'm afraid of something happening to me. i believe in the power of the constitution and especially my second amendment rights. i'm a strong conservative who believes that the constitution is our guiding power and not the cronyism that seems to blajtd d.c. the founding fathers knew what they were doing. as soon as i'm legal, i want to take gun safety classes and purchase a handgun of my very own. i'd like to think i could protect my own life as well as any other person whose life may be in danger. gun control doesn't solve anything. criminals will get guns no matter what. i want to be able to protect myself as well as someone else's. please don't take away my second amendment rights. well said, emily.
william from connecticut submitted the following statement: "on tuesday, february 11, 2003, my brother was confronted by three armed thugs in a parking lot. out of their stolen car with a stolen shotgun they tried to rob him. much to their surprise, my brother had his legally owned pennsylvania with -- pistol with a legal carry permit. he thwarted this and saved his own life and held them at bay until the police arrived. without this second amendment, he wouldn't have pen another -- he would have been another victim to the growing street crime that these bills do not address. you see, mr. president, these are the rights that we're trying to protect by requiring a 60-vote threshold on any new gun control legislation and in so doing we're trying to protect the -- prevent the ability of members to push through legislation before anyone has had time to read and evaluate
the language. and then tell the american people what that language means for them. what that language would mean for their rights. unfortunately, that is exactly what we are faced with today. yesterday senators toomey and manchin announced a new proposal that's widely expected to replace the current languaging on the background checks in this bill. and yet as of this morning, as of this very moment, not a single senator has been provided the legislative text of that very provision. because the background check measure is the centerpiece of this legislation, it's critical that we all know what's in the bill before we vote on it. as i've argued on this floor, and also in the national media and back home in my home state of utah, we should not be legislating by negotiating closed-door back-room deals away from the eyes of the american
people. we should not be voting before we read and understand exactly how these proposals will affect the rights of law-abiding citizens. and whether we can say with any level of certainty that they will in fact reduce crime. this is exactly why we need more debate and why i ask my colleagues to vote no on cloture. so senators and the american people can fully understand the consequences of this legislation. so just to be clear, the vote we will have in just a few minutes will be to end debate on whether the senate should take up a bill. the very heart of which is being concealed from the senate and concealed from the american people as of this very moment. proponents say that the people deserve a vote. but don't they deserve to know what they're voting on? i think they do. thank you, mr. president.
the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, i have eight unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders and i ask unanimous consent these requests be agreed to and the requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: mr. president, i'm about to suggest the absence of a quorum for about one minute, and i ask consent that upon coming out of the quorum that i be recognized. so i suggest the absence of a quorum.
mr. leahy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from erm vermont. mr. leahy: i ask unanimous consent to proceed for 10 minutes. the presiding officer: we are in a quorum call. mr. leahy: i ask consent the call of the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: and, mr. president, i ask consent to be able to continue for ten minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: mr. president, earlier this week i spoke about the need for the senate to consider legislation to help increase america's safety by reducing gun violence. i came on the floor of the senate and i urged my yellow senators to abandon efforts to filibuster proceeding to this bill.
the senate should not have to overcome a filibuster to respond to the call for action to response to the gun violence they're experiencing. mr. president, i have the privilege of being the longest serving member of this body, and i've watched debate on so many issues. if there was ever an issue where all 100 of us should vote yes or no, it's here. i was encouraged by the comments of a number of senate republicans that they are prepared to debate this matter and will not support this wrong-headed filibuster. even the "wall street journal" he wouldized against a filibuster yesterday. in a lead editorial titled "the g.o.p.'s gun control misfire." i don't agree with much, but i would quote this:
"if conservatives want to prove their gun control bonafide, the way to do it to vote on the floor. senators should understand what is in this floor the small minority of republicans are seeking to prevent the senate from even considering." the bill has three parts. none of them threaten second-amendment rights. none of them call for gun confiscation or a government registry. in fact, two of the three parts have always had bipartisan support and with regard to the third component, the provisions closing loopholes in our current background check system, senators manchin and too maniy yesterday announced they're going to have a bipartisan amendment for this component as well." and yesterday senator collins, senior senator from maine, and i were able to announce another
step towards consensus. and we had previously been eengaged with discussions with law enforcement and victims groups. more recently we have been engaged in discussions with the n.r.a. we have agreed to negotiations to stop the illegal firearms act that addresses all of is substantive concerns while doing as we've always wanted to do, providing law enforcement officials with the tools they need to investigate and prosecute illegal gun trafficking and straw purchasing. now, senator collins and i are both strong supporters and advocates of second-amendment rights for law-abiding americans. and it seems absurd that some senators nonetheless persist in filibustering the consideration of our bill.
we, the american people expect us to stand up and face our responsibilities. whether we like having to vote or not, we have an oath of office to uphold the constitution, to ya uphold our laws. and congress has to confront the serious role the straw purchasing gun trafficking play in supplying criminals with firearms for illegal purposes. it's not enough to stand on the floor of the senate and say you're prolaw enforcement. let us take as a given everybody is pro-law enforcement. but then give law enforcement the tools they need. the bipartisan stop illegal trafficking in firearms act will create specific criminal fraughts prohibiting the trafficking and straw purchasing of firearms.
it will also strengthen other law enforcement tools sis those investigating these crimes. it's a commonsense re1307b respo help win the fight against gun violence and help law enforcement. that's why law enforcement so strongly supports our bill. yet some are seeking to filibuster. let them go to law enforcement groups and say they're trying to block them and take away the tools need to keep every one of us safe. congress should be confronting the serious role of the straw purchasing and gun trafficking play in supplying criminals with firearms for illegal purposes, not ducking the issue. stand up and be counted. stand up and be counted. don't give speeches saying you're in favor of law enforcement or we're going to
take away tools law enforcement we're going to need. stand up and be counted. stand up and be counted. if we can all agree that criminals and those ajude viewes mentally ill, why not plunge the loopholes in the law that allow them to buy guns without background checks. stand up and be counted. it is a simple matter of common sense p. and if we agree that the background check is worthwhile, should we not try to inform its content and -- so it can be more effective? what responsible gun owner objects to improving the background check system? stand up and be counted. in our january hearing i pointed out that wayne lapierre of the n.r.a. testified in 19 i999 in favor of mandatory gun checks.
he went on to emphasize n.r.a.'s support for closing loop hopes in the background check system by saying in an off the-quoted remarks, "no loopholes anywhere for anyone." well, of course, it is common sense to close the gun show loophole. the senate voted to do so in 1999. we should vote to do so again. this time we should get it enacted. and that's one of the ways in which the bipartisan proposals from senators manchin and toomey would improve the law, if we're able to stop this ill-conceived filibuster and get to the bill. americans across this great country are looking to us for solutions and for action, not filibustering or sloganeering. americans are saying, stand up and be counted. i opened our first hearing on
these issues in january asking senators both sides of the aisle to join in the discussion as part of a collective effort to find solutions to help ensure that no family, no school, no community ever has to endure the kind of tragedy that families of newtown, aurora, mill creek, tucson, blacksburg, or columbine had to suffer. and as emphasized throughout the committee process, the second amendment is secure. it's going to remain secure and protected. that's part of my oath of office as a senator. in two recent cases the supreme court has confirmed that the second amendment, like the other aspects of our bill of rights, secures a fundamental individual right.
americans have the right to self-defense. they have the right to have guns in their homes to protect their families. no one is going to take away these rights or these guns. second amendment rights are the foundation on which our discussion rests. they're not at risk. but what is at risk, we cannot close our eyes to what is at risk: lives are at risk when responsible people fail to stand up for laws that will keep the guns out of the hands of those who will use them to commit mass murder. so i ask my fellow senators, focus our discussion/debate on these proposed statute fry measur--statutory measures inteo better protect our children and all men's. ours is a free society, an open society, a wonderful society. we should be coming together as
elected representatives of all the american people. consider how to become a safer and more secure society. and i would have hoped that all senators? both parties will join together in good faith to strengthen our law enforcement efforts against gun violence and to protect public safety. let's focus on our responsibilities to the american people. we're the 100 people -- there are only 100 senators. we're elected to represent more than 314 million americans. that is an awesome responsibility. let's stand up to that responsibility. we're accountable to those people. we're not accountable to special interest groups on either the right or the left. we're accountable to 314 million americans.
the special interest lobbies on either the left or right should not dictate what we do. we dons need a lobby's permission to pass laws to fight crime and improve public safety. that's our responsibility. and i urge senators be less concerned with special interest scorecards and more focused on fulfilling our oath to faithfully discourage the duties of our office as united states senators. i consider myself a responsible gun owner, but i'm also someone who cherishes all of our constitutional rights. as a senator, a senator who has sworn an oath to uphold those rights, as a father and a grandfather, as a former prosecutor who's seen the
results of gun violence firs firsthand, i've been working to build consensus around commonsense solutions. i'm prepared to debate and vote on the measures before us. i challenge other senators to do the same. do the same. stand up and be counted. stand up and be counted. a filibuster says you're not willing to take a stand, you vote "maybe." stand up and be counted. have the courage. stand up appeared be counted. -- stand up and be counted. and let us work together to make america safer, all americans. mr. president, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i'd ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be rescinded. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, yesterday i had the solemn privilege of meeting with coming of the families -- with some of the families who lost loved ones in the sandy hook shooting. aes as a father, i can hardly bn to comprehend the enormous grief that these individuals have suffered, losing such a young child or a spouse or a mother in an act of what would appear to
be just senseless violence. burying your child is something that no parent should have to do. the families and friends of the victims at sandy hook are owed the dignity and respect of a transparent, good-faith effort to address gun violence. i do believe there is a common ground upon which republicans and democrats can come together. the issue of mental health of the gun owner is that common ground for me, along with enforcing current laws that are on the books. if there's one thread that
connects the horrific series of gun violence episodes in our country, particularly in recent times, it is the mental illness of the shooter. in every days the perpetrator's mental illness should have been detected and in some instances it was reported but no report dt reported. these individuals should never be allowed access to gun. this is actually something we can and should do something about. we need to make sure that the mentally ill are getting the help they need, not guns. as i said, this is something that i believe all of us can agree on. in response to the tragedy at virginia tech in 2007, the united states senate and the
congress unanimously passed a measure to bolster mental health reporting requirements on background checks. some states like mine, texas, have received high marks for their compliance. but many states have essentially been noncompliant and the department of justice has failed to adequately back up implementation of the law. so essentially the law that we passed in the wake of the virginia tech shooting to require reporting of people who are adjudicated mentally ill in their respective states is not working the way it should. rather than just string along an ineffective program, i think this is a wonderful opportunity for us to fix it, and we should fix it. i want to say just a word, though, about symbolism versus solutions. i am not interested in congress
voting on a measure that would have no impact on the horrific violence we've seen in recent months. i am not interested in a symbolic gesture which would offer the families of the sandy hook shooting no real solutions that they seek. to a person, they told me they're not political, they don't come with an agenda, they're not asking us to pass a specific piece of legislation. they just want to know that their loved one did not die in vain. and that something good can come out of this terrible tragedy. so i think dealing with this mental health reporting issue is a common ground we can come together on. but we also need to make sure that we're not just going to pass additional laws that will not be enforced.
what possible solace could that be to these families for congress just to pass additional laws that will never be enforced? take, for example, the national instant criminal background check system, the nic system, as it's called, which flags people who life -- who lie on their background check. the annual number of cases referred for prosecution fell sharply during the first two years of the president -- the current president's term of office, indeed there was a 58% drop in referrals and 70% drop of prosecutions for people who lie, who lie on the background check. we can fix this. we can fix this. let's make sure that guns aren't getting into the hands of people who we all agree should not have them. we could be doing this right now
with broad bipartisan support. but let me just conclude with a couple of observations about where we find ourselves with an 11:00 vote on an underlying bill which remains controversial and which i think the majority leader and all of us know has very little chance, if any, of going anywhere. we heard yesterday that our colleagues from west virginia and ohio have come together on a bipartisan background check bill. i asked my staff as recently as on my way over here whether that had actually been released, the language, so we can actually read it and find out what's this it, and it has not. we have no commitment in front of the senate by the majority leader that there will be a robust debate and amendment
process because there are a lot of amendments that need to be offered to whatever that so far unwritten bill says, i'm sure, and we need to have a full, robust, transparent discussion of this issue in front of the american people. so i'm not going to vote to proceed to a bill that has not yet been written, no matter how well intentioned it may be. we need to make sure that what we do is address the cause of this violence and to come up not with symbolic gestures that will have no impact or to pass other laws that will not be enforced but to come together with real solutions. rather than put on a show and pat ourselves on the back and call it a day, let's do
something good to make sure we've done everything in our human capacity to prevent another sandy hook. this is what these families want. this is what they deserve. and this is what the american people deserve. this calls the united states senate to exercise its historic and essential role in bringing all sides together to try to come up with solutions. but if we can't do that here, if we can't do that now, when will we ever address this tragedy? the president has told some of the victims' families that this side of the aisle doesn't really care about their loss.
that's not true. that's false. the president is wrong. all of us care about these families. and all of us should care about violence in our communities, and we should try to work together to find ways to address this. not in a symbolic sort of way, but in a real way that offers a solution and maybe just a little bit of progress on this issue that would allow these families to say no, my loved one did not die in vain. something good came out of this. we want to work together to find real solutions to this type of senseless, incomprehensible violence that's taken too many lives.
mr. leahy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermontment. mr. leahy: i ask unanimous consent that the call of the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mrthe clerk willthe clerk wil the clerk: the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion: we, the undersigned senators, in
accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on -- a bill to ensure that all sloyds should be prohibited from buying a firearm shall be liste listedn national background check signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense the senate that debate on the motion to proceed to s. 649, a bill to ensure that all individuals who should be prohibited from buying a firearms are listed in the national instant criminal background check system and require a background check for every firearm sale and for other purposes shall be brought to a close? the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
the presiding officer: are there any senators wishing to vote or change their votes? on this vote the yeas are 68. the nays are 31. three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn having voted in the affirmative, the motion is agreed to. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: mr. president, i appreciate everyone's cooperation. i'm glad we were able to get cloture on this legislation. this legislation and this vote that just took place is of course important for our country, especially the people from connecticut, who have lived through this tragedy. but it's also important for this body, this senate. there have been many things written in the last several months about how the senate cannot operate. and i so appreciate the members
on the other side of the aisle, especially john mccain, on a sunday show said "i don't think there should be a filibuster on this." john mccain is a leader of -- has been a leader in this country for 31 years. people respect his opinion, and i'm grateful to all republicans who joined with us to allow this debate to go forward. now the hard work starts now. as everyone knows, because we've all heard this on a number of occasions, the first amendment is going to be one that has been worked on for weeks by senator manchin, senator toomey and senator kirk. that will be the first amendment. we expect to lay that down later today. i hope -- i hope that there will be no efforts to continue this filibuster with the 30 hours. there's no reason we shouldn't get to legislating. so we have an important lunch, as everyone knows, and we're going to finish that lunch.
i hope we can come back and lay down this amendment and start some debate on it. i've indicated to senators toomey and manchin, they want to spend a lot of time, because they have to get prepared for what they're going to do beginning tuesday morning, i said that's fine. in the meantime there are other things we can do on this legislation. we know there are other amendments, and i hope that no one is going to say i'm going to filibuster every amendment that's offered. that defeats the whole purpose of why we're here. we can't allow that to happen. it would be such a shame if that in fact did happen. we're going to have an open amendment process. senators are going to be able to offer -- one thing we can't do is have pending scores of amendment. we're not going to do that. we need to make this debate so people understand what's going on. there are certain things we're going to have to have votes on here. we're going to have to vote on the manchin-toomey amendment.
we're going to have to have a vote on assault weapons. some people love it. some people hate it. but we're going to have to have a vote on that. we're also going to have to have a vote on the size of clips or magazines. but, mr. president, that's the only votes that i am going to make sure we have. other than that, we should have amendments. people think the present law is too weak, change that. if people think it's too strong, have some amendments to change that. we cannot have just a few senators spoiling everything for everyone he here. this is the time we should lay down amendments and see if we can pass them. and we can set up procedures here, as we've done, to make sure that everyone is heard. i can remember, mr. president, when i had to meet with the families from newtown. to be very honest with you, i didn't want to. but i did, in my room over here,
219. that was a hard meeting because everyone knows how i approached things in the past with regard to these matters now before us. but i am like, i think, everyone in america. mr. president, could we have order? i'm like everyone in america. the events of the last few months has been very tragic. people going to a movie theater to watch a movie and they're gunned down. and more would have been gunned down but for the fact that the man's 100-clip magazine jammed. newtown, we've all seen the pictures. they're not here today. but those babies being shot more than once. so, mr. president, america has a different view of this violence
than they did just a while ago. we all believe in the constitution. we all know what all these amendments are about and what they're supposed to do, and we're going to make sure that during this debate we keep the constitution in mind. but the families of the most recent tragedy in newtown deserve a debate, because these people from newtown who are the survivors of this tragedy are representing everybody in america. that's why we need this debate. and the senate's going to give these family members, friends, and people who live in newtown, no matter how long it takes, the ability to see how people stand on these issues. so the senate's going to give them votes. we hope it will be sooner rather than later. but we're going to work through this. senators on both sides have amendments that they want to
offer, and we have our most experienced senator, who has been here longer than anyone else, as the manager of this bill; senator leahy from vermont. he's always a fair man. he's going to continue to be. he knows there are a few amendments that have to go forward. but after that, we're going to be as deliberative as we can to make sure that people have the opportunity to offer amendments. after we, as i repeat, after we get through the manchin-toomey amendment, the assault weapons, and the high-capacity magazines, we're going to make sure that the, everyone has the opportunity and the republicans catch up. we can have the first amendment, the toomey-man which i amendment. -- the too many my-manchin amendment. after we get through these two things, we'll have the
republicans, looks like at this time two or three behind. they can catch up and then we'll alternate back and forth. even though there is no rule requiring that, that is probably the best way to move forward. mr. president, i'm grateful to everyone that we are here and able to start legislating on this issue that has caught the attention of the american people, and, frankly, the world. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent we're having a joint caucus. i ask consent the senate recess from 12:30 until 2:30 today to allow for a joint caucus meeting and that all time during recess and morning business count postcloture on the motion to proceed to s. 649. the presiding officer: without objection.
relative to an unrelated issue, i just want to say a very quick word about the historic vote that took place a few minutes ago on the floor of the senate. we had i believe 16 republicans who joined us in an effort to proceed to a bill that will initiate a debate, one of the first in years on the floor of the senate, about gun safety in america. i salute those members of the senate from both sides of the aisle who supported that motion to proceed but especially from the other side. i know that it took a great deal of courage, political courage, for them to step up and to at least initiate this debate. i will tell you that there were those among them, some 13, who signed a letter saying we're going to filibuster this matter to stop it. they did not succeed today in that effort because 16 on the republican side joined us. i don't presume they're going to vote for all or any of the amendments to be offered, but at
least they allowed the senate to be the senate instead of having us bogged down, as we have over 400 times in the last six years, into a filibuster. i hope during the course of this debate on the floor that we are able to have amendments debated and voted on. the majority leader made that request earlier and i feel for the good of this senate and certainly for the debt that we owe to america to address the issues of the day, that we should address them in a bipartisan fashion, in courteous but thorough debate. that's what the senate is -- has stood for as an institution and i hope it does and continues to. i ask unanimous consent the statement i'm about to make be part of morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: thank you very much, madam chair. i rise to discuss the increasing american jobs through greater exports to africa act of 2013. i'm introducing this bill along with my partners from the last congress, senator chris coons is here from the state of delaware,